DESPERATE Vladimir Putin is plotting a trade-off with North Korea in order to boost his dwindling army, according to pro-Kremlin reports.
Russia would offer energy and grain to the pverty stricken nation in return for 100,000 soldiers to boost the Kremlin’s ailing frontline forces.
As reported by the Mail Online, the report reads: “The country is ready to transfer up to 100,000 of its soldiers to Donbas.
“Pyongyang will be able to transfer its tactical units to Donbas.”
As the information has emerged from pro-Kremlin sources, it is impossible to know how accurate these reports are.
It comes as British intelligence stated how the Russian leader is possibly recruiting lags from his jails to fight as his army suffers “incredibly high” fatalities & casualties on the frontline.
Finland and Norway have also wrecked Putin’s bid to divide and weaken the western alliance by applying to join Nato.
Read our Ukraine-Russia blog below for the latest updates…
First Ukrainian grain shipment to UK to arrive in ten days
THE first shipment of Ukrainian grain to the UK since the war began is likely to arrive in ten days, officials have said.
Millions of tons have been stuck in Ukraine since Vladimir Putin’s Russia invaded just over six months ago.
A UN-brokered agreement last month allowed the first Ukrainian shipments to be cleared for travel this week, in a boost for President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The first is on its way to Lebanon while the vessel Rojen is expected to arrive in the UK around August 14 from the port of Chornomorsk.
An official said of the Rojen trip: “It is almost certain the success of its transit will result in more frequent transits.”
But they added it would take time to relieve the backlog built up since February.
Ukraine revives theory Putin is using body doubles
UKRAINE has revived a conspiracy theory that Russia is using body doubles to stand in for Vladimir Putin, and points to his changing ears as proof.
This week, Ukraine‘s newly-appointed military intelligence chief, Major General Kyrylo Budanov, told Ukrainian TV that Putin’s height and even ears appear to have changed in recent appearances.
“The picture, let’s say, of the ears, is different,” he said during an appearance on the channel ‘Groshi’, meaning money.
“And it’s like a fingerprint, each person’s ear picture is unique. It cannot be repeated.”
Budanov was also cited by Ukrainian news outlet TSN as saying he believes the Russian president is seriously ill and using body doubles to avoid public appearances.
He claimed that although very similar, the Putin body doubles “have different habits, different mannerisms, different gaits, sometimes even different heights if you looked closely”.
US says it will ‘pursue’ Russian offer of prisoner exchange swap
The United States will “pursue” Russia’s latest offer to discuss at the presidential level a prisoner swap involving detained basketball star Brittney Griner, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said.
“[Russian] Foreign Minister Lavrov said this morning… that they are prepared to engage”, Mr Blinken said at a foreign ministers’ meeting in Cambodia.
“And we’ll be pursuing that.”
Sunak: An ‘enormous difference’ can be made to reduce Russian energy consumption
Rishi Sunak said an “enormous difference” can be made between now and next winter to reduce the UK’s dependence on Russian energy.
He was asked by host Kay Burley during the Sky Tory leadership debate last night how high energy and food bills would have to go before the UK reassessed its support for Ukraine.
He said: “I don’t think that’s how we’re going to look at it actually, because we can make an enormous difference over, between now and actually next winter in reducing our dependence on Russian energy.
“So in the short term, of course, we’re going to step in and I want to step in and help people more. I announced enormous support as chancellor. As prime minister I’ll go further, because the situation has deteriorated.
“But what I’m looking to is by next winter that we’ve got through this, and there’s lots of things we can do to help us do that.”
British MoD says Russia’s intentions at power plant remain ‘unclear’
Russia’s intentions around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant remain “unclear”, the Ministry of Defence has said,
It added Russian forces were likely operating in the regions adjacent to the power station.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) write on Twitter: “The actions they have undertaken at the facility have likely undermined the security and safety of the plant’s normal operations.
“Russian forces have probably used the wider facility area, in particular the adjacent city of Enerhodar, to rest their forces, utilising the protected status of the nuclear power plant to reduce the risk to their equipment and personnel from overnight Ukrainian attacks.”
Zelensky hits back at Amnesty International report
Volodymyr Zelensky has taken aim at Amnesty International after the human rights group accused Ukraine of endangering civilians by basing troops in residential areas.
Speaking in his nightly video address on Thursday, Mr Zelensky took a swipe at the organisation, claiming it was trying to “shift responsibility from the aggressor to the victim”.
The Ukrainian president said: “There cannot be – even hypothetically – any condition under which any Russian attack on Ukraine becomes justified.”
He continued: “Aggression against our state is unprovoked, invasive and openly terroristic.
“And if someone makes a report in which the victim and the aggressor are allegedly the same in something, if some data about the victim is analysed and what the aggressor was doing at that time is ignored, this cannot be tolerated.”
Ukraine war will end ‘when Russians leave the country’ says Truss
The war in Ukraine will end when the Russians leave Ukraine, Liz Truss said yesterday.
During the Sky News debate on Thursday evening, the Foreign Secretary was asked how she would propose to broker peace in Ukraine.
She said: “Well, the only way this war will end is when the Russians leave Ukraine. And we need to make sure that we enable the Ukrainians to defeat Vladimir Putin. If there’s any failed peace settlement, if there’s any giveaway of Ukrainian territory, what we know from history is Russia will just come back for more.”
She went on: “I certainly think it would be wrong for us to give away any territory on behalf of the Ukrainians.
“Now, of course, President (Volodomyr) Zelensky ultimately is the person who has to determine what an eventual peace deal would look like. And he has been very clear that Russia needs to leave the entirety of the Ukrainian territory, but I think it’d be completely wrong for the United Kingdom or indeed any other country to say Ukraine should give up part of their territory. That would be very wrong.”
Turkey’s Erdogan to discuss Ukraine and Syria with Putin today
Ending the war in Ukraine and starting a new one in Syria are expected to dominate talks on Friday between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Turkish leader will be riding high from the diplomatic success of helping orchestrate the resumption of Ukrainian grain shipments across the Black Sea when he flies to Sochi for his second talks with Putin in just 17 days.
But there are tensions. Erdogan was told by Putin in Tehran last month that Russia remains opposed to any new offensive that Turkey might be planning against Kurdish militants in northern Syria.
Analysts believe these strains form part of the “competitive cooperation” that has defined the two leaders’ relation over the past 20 years.
“Russia’s war on Ukraine has restored Turkey’s self image as a key geopolitical player and given Erdogan more visibility than at any time in the last few years,” European Council of Foreign Relations fellow Asli Aydintasbas wrote in a report last week.
“Most Turks support their country’s balancing act and quasi-neutral position between the West and Russia.”
Attempts by NATO member Turkey to remain neutral in the face of Moscow’s historic standoff with the West over Ukraine are starting to pay off.
Russia says it’s ‘ready to discuss prisoner swap’ after NBA star jailing
Russia said Friday it was ready to discuss a prisoner swap with Washington at the presidential level, a day after the drug conviction of US basketball star Brittney Griner.
Despite tensions soaring between Russia and the US since the launch of Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine, the former Cold War rivals appeared to be edging closer to a new prisoner exchange.
The White House has urged Russia to accept its offer of a deal for the release of Griner and former US Marine Paul Whelan, who was sentenced to 16 years in prison on espionage charges.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday said Russia was willing to discuss the matter.
“We are ready to discuss this subject, but only within the framework of the (communication) channel established by presidents Putin and Biden,” Lavrov told a press conference on a visit to Cambodia.
“There is a special channel established by the presidents and despite certain public declarations, it is still functional,” he added.
WNBA player Griner was on Thursday sentenced to nine years in a Russian penal colony and ordered to pay a fine of one million rubles ($16,590) for possessing and smuggling narcotics.
Three grain shipment vessels leave Ukrainian ports
Three ships loaded with grain left Ukrainian ports on Friday under a recently concluded safe passage deal, the Turkish defence ministry and Reuters witnesses said.
The first grain ship to set sail from a Ukrainian port since the start of the Russian invasion, departed Odesa on Monday.
“We expect that the security guarantees of our partners from the U.N. and Turkey will continue to work, and food exports from our ports will become stable and predictable for all market participants,” Ukrainian Infrastructure Mnister Oleksandr Kubrakov said on Facebook after the ships set off.
In a rare diplomatic breakthrough in the five-month war, the United Nations and Turkey have brokered a safe passage deal between Moscow and Kyiv, after the United Nations warned of famines due to Ukrainian grain shipments being halted.
Russia’s Novoshakhtinsk refinery fully resumes operations – reports
The Novoshakhtinsk oil refinery in Russia’s southern Rostov region has fully resumed operations after it was struck by drones in June, Interfax news agency cited authorities as saying on Friday.
The plant said in June that it was hit by two drones flying from the direction of Ukraine, prompting it to suspend production.
Ukraine to convince Europe to import its nuclear power
The nation has plenty of nuclear power capabilities, and will propose to sell electricity to Europe.
However, Ukraine must prove that the nuclear power it can provide is completely safe, which is problematic considering the current invasion.
Many nuclear power plants in Ukraine are being occupied by Russia.
NATO boss sends Putin a warning: ‘The whole alliance will react’
Secretary General Jen Stoltenberg made NATO’s stance against Russia clear, “this is the most dangerous situation in Europe since World War Two.”
Russia is at risk of sparking an international war if it attempts to invade any NATO nations.
Jen Stoltenberg gave a speech from Norway, saying: “What happens in Ukraine is terrible but it would be much worse if there was a war between Russia and NATO.”
“If President Putin even thinks of doing something to a NATO country as he has done to Georgia, Moldova or Ukraine, then all of NATO will be involved immediately.”
Ukraine calls Amnesty International’s criticism ‘unfair’
The human rights group accused Ukraine in a recent report of “endangering” human life.
This comes after Amnesty International accused Ukraine of putting it’s civilians at risk, but allowing military forces to set up bases and store weapons near residential areas.
Subsequently, this makes residential areas targets for Russian fighters.
Amnesty said the Ukrainian military had used hospitals as military bases.
Dmytro Kuleba, Minister of Foreign Affairs, said: “This behaviour of Amnesty International is not about finding and reporting the truth to the world.
“It is about creating a false equivalence, between the offender and the victim, between the country that destroys hundreds and thousands of civilians, cities, territories and a country that is desperately defending itself.”
Largest nuclear plant in Ukraine is ‘ completely out of control’
The United Nations has given a stark warning around the safety of Zaporizhzhia.
Currently, the UN has said the nuclear situation is “really volatile.”
Reportedly the situation is worsening daily, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The nuclear power plant is currently under Russia occupation, but the UN have requested the need for a visit to stabilise the situation.
Rafael Grossi said:” What is at stake is extremely serious and extremely grave and dangerous.”
China has the influence to halt Ukraine’s invasion, says Zelensky
Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, holds the belief that China could positively influence Russia to stop it’s invasion.
Reportedly, Zelensky interviewed with The South China Morning post, informing the publication the power China holds over Russia.
According to Ukrinform, Zelensky said: “China a very powerful state, it’s a powerful economy, so it can politically, economically influence Russia.
And China is [a] permanent member of the UN Security Council.”
The Ukrainian President went on to say that despite reaching out to China’s President Xi Jinping since the invasion commenced on 24 February, he has not heard a response.
He said it would be very helpful to have a conversation with China’s President.
In pictures: Taking a cat nap amid the debris of a former battlefield
A cat takes a kip underneath a Russian tank in the city of Kyiv.
The tank has been in Kyiv since the Russians were pushed out of the city by the Ukrainians.
It is situated in the village of Velyka Dymerka, where the abandoned tank is surrounded by garden flowers.
Back in March 2022, the north of the city, where the village of Velyka Dymerka is situated, was a place of death and destruction as it was turned into a battlefield.
Since reclaiming their homes, Ukrainians planted flowers around the tank, where the nonchalant cat peacefully snoozes.
Amnesty International has ACCUSED Ukraine of endangering civilians
Reportedly, the human rights group has condemned Ukraine for putting “civilians in harm’s way.”
The group reported that Ukrainian forces had put military bases and weapons systems in populated residential areas.
“Such tactics violate international humanitarian law and endanger civilians,” stating that it has made “civilians military targets.”
Amnesty International went on to say: “Being in a defensive position does not exempt the Ukrainian military from respecting international humanitarian law.”
However, it did state that Ukrainian forces had no involvement in the deaths of civilians in Kharkiv.
The United Nations to investigate the bombing of Olenivka prison
Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, said the UN will facilitate a fact-finding team.
The team will study the attack that was carried out at the Olenivka prison, that killed 50 Ukrainian prisoners of war.
Both Russia and Ukraine have blamed each other for the attack, requesting an official investigation, however the UN are prepared for Russia to skew or “falsify” evidence to shift the blame.
Norway Consul: ‘I hate Russians!’
Elisabeth Ellingsen has been shown the door by Moscow after being recorded slamming Russians in a video tape.
The video was reportedly taken in a hotel reception, where she had an outburst, shouting: “I hate Russians!”
It is thought she had the outburst after the cleaning procedure in her hotel room took too long.
The Russian foreign ministry condemned her actions, and released a statement that read: “After what happened, Elisabeth Ellingsen’s presence in Russia is impossible.”
Russia ‘may not meet’ 2022 grain harvest
Russia may not reach its expected harvest of 130 million tonnes of grain due to weather factors and a lack of spare parts for foreign equipment, the country’s agriculture ministry has revealed.
“Taken together, all of this creates risks in terms of reaching the grain harvest figure of 130 million tonnes,” the ministry said.
It said that if it does not meet the planned volumes, it will have to revise its export plans of 50 million tonnes.